October 3rd, 2006

loom

Saint Nick takes the 49

white hair, and beard, both ending
in a smooth circle around his shoulders
lost look, blue veins under
the delicate hairless skin of his arms

gray pants, too short for his dirty socks,
he seeks an empty seat
in silent helplessness, he pleads
with the black-clad messenger bag man
[ ostentatiously aloof
his ears blocked with digital plastic
his eyes with sarcasm ]

In his faded pink shirt, he settles
next to the young man, twitching
like a deer in the rain, restlessly seeking
a quiet seat of his own. From the
red sack in his lap, he draws ratty papers

a yellowing prescriptionists free pad, bearing the name
of a drug prominently printed at the top of each.
The pages are covered with careful, ancient
script -- his own, with a ball-point pen --

a line of Norwegian -- Finnish? -- a language
with loops and whorls over its vowels, twitchy
diacritics like the flickering of his eyes --
each line followed by its hasty translation

"Friday let us go to the movies"
"This boat is too small"
"Just a dog is having its day"

I get off at the university, but he stays on,
northbound.